Wednesday 5 June 2013

One Of Your Five A Day

We're always interested in finding out about alternative yarns for fabric. From traditional fibres like nettle and hemp that are ripe for rediscovery, to recycled plastics and spaceage monofibres, we've seen and written about them all here at The Pier.

But here's a real mind-boggler, and an inspired example of lateral thinking. A group of Italian students noted an increased problem with the disposal of citrus harvest waste near to their study base in Milan. Was there anything they could do with the huge amounts of pulp, rind and fibre that the food industry created?

Wait. Fibre. The waste is largely cellulose, which can be transformed into fibre, which can be used to make yarn, and then on to fabric. The students, chemistry majors at the Politechnico di Milano, spent a year on the problem.

The end result? Orange Fiber. The core fabric in designer Adriana Santanocito's Fall/Winter 2012 collection, this cloth has some surprising benefits apart from its impeccable ethical and environmental credentials.

Natural citrus oils remain in the fabric, so as you wear it the clothing releases doses of Vitamin A, C and E onto your skin. This benefit is something that nano-tech fabric researchers have been working on for years, trying to find ways of embedding micro-capsules of nutrients or moisturiser into the cloth. The students who now run Orange Fiber have beaten them to the finish line by all accounts. This is clothing that looks good and does you good.

What next? Well, Orange Fiber are one of ten startups to be featured at the 2015 Changemakers Expo in Milan, which should focus a ton of attention and money on them. Their goal is to bring new life to the Italian textile industry, and a shot of sunshine to ethical manufacture there.

I'll raise a glass of juice to that.

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